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Discussion Starter #1
Quite a few years ago I took an introduction to beekeeping class at NC State University. It was a requirement of my major to take a natural science class. Who knew it would spark such a fascinating hobby. :)

In the class, Dr. Ambrose talked about using oversized playing cards taped to the front of the hives, just above the entrance. Dr. Ambrose praised how the use of these cards acted as a fantastic hive identifier. Instead of going to "Hive #24" you can go to "The 7 of Clubs."

In addition to using the cards for your own benefit, Dr. Ambrose discussed how the bees were actually able to use the cards to distinguish their home from their neighbor's. He claimed that the bees were able to tell the difference between a club, diamond, heart, and clover, and could count the difference between the 3 of diamonds and the 5 of diamonds. According to him, this greatly reduced drifting.

Sadly, Dr. Ambrose retired a few years ago, and I have never heard of anyone else using such a method. Has anyone on here had success with such a system? Tried it? Even heard of it?

If so, where does one even find weather proof playing cards?
 

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I've never tried it, but the idea is intriguing! Perhaps you could run the cards through a Scotch brand laminator. That would make them weather proof. Maybe use adhesive backed velcro to affix them to the hive. Would the bees be bothered by the cards? I've heard of them trying to clean off numbers people have painted on the hives:scratch:
 

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I have read several articles on the subject. Believe this was discusses quite sometime back here when we were discussing colors, shapes, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I found that mention USCBeeMan in the previous posting you are talking about. However the individual just talked in one post about how he heard a breeder using it on his mating nucs.

I was hoping to find more information from someone who had personal experience, or could speak of it's success or failure. Or perhaps someone who could point me to an article written about it?

I'm hitting the point in my apiary where I will need hive identifiers. I imagine numbers will work, but if cards work just as well as numbers, while providing a service to the bees, why not use playing cards?
 

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I'm about to populate six pretty much identical mating nucs tomorrow and I'm thinking of laminating pieces of construction paper to differentiate them - but I know it won't be long before they fade. Someone should make a product just for this - like a deck of cards but with different bright colors, numbers, and being weather and sunlight resistant.
 

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Duct tape, comes in a multitude of colors, cheap, and we all have some in silver. If it falls off just replace with same color. I do like the playing card idea, large print version.
 

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You may need a couple of cards for each hive. I might glance at the front to check for activity but I look alot more at the back when I'm working, and walking up to them.

They also sell plastic cards for using in hot tubs.
 

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Go to the casino and get all the free decks of used card you can carry. Making them weather proof, I would not bother, but you can try silicon spray like camp dry.
 

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lamination fade pretty quick outside. I'd say you'd be lucky to get a year.

+1 on the plastic playing cards
 

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I have started doing something a little time consuming, but it has become quite fun. My dads farm is part of the appalachian quilt trail. You can google it for defenition, but basically its an 8x8 ft design that goes on your barn. There are hundreds of these "quilts" that span from south Fla to Michigian. I started doing this withoutdoor pain on my hives and have contemplated selling them. Here are the first 3.

I just moved these to a friends garden across the street from the cotton.




This one is already on the cotton but the pic is taken on my kitchen table. These are all 2 meds except the purple and pink one, which is a replica of his quilt and done on 3 meds. Can do deeps or whatever. I am making the designs origional.....except his and its meant to sit beside his barn and will be soon.....




The pink and purple one also has the orange and yellow ones lid painted to match. Forgot to change them out yesterday. My wife likes them, so that makes it easier to get away with taking the time to paint them.
 

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Just paint different colored patterns, squares triangles numbers, letters etc. on the boxes. They're not reading the what's on there, they're just imprinting during their orientation flights on the shape of the design on their home box.
 

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I have used colors and shapes on nuc boxes and I have not noticed any reduction in drifting workers or queens as opposed to plain front boxes. The nucs are placed in pairs in rows of eight to twelve with four feet between pairs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just paint different colored patterns... They're not reading the what's on there
If painting designs on the outside of the hive does no better and no worse than attaching playing cards, then the difference between the two is only what's more convient for the beekeeper. To me, I think it's easier to walk around with a stapler and a deck of playing cards, and mark 40 hives (not using the face cards) in under 20 minutes. Painting symbols would take much longer than that.

The symbols are also permanent, while the cards are changeable (if need be). It is also easier for me to remember which hive needs something if I used cards ('the 8 of spades needs a new queen' leaves a better impression to me than 'the oblong circle with a line drawn through it halfway between horizontal and vertical needs a new queen').

However, these are just conjectures, as I use neither.
 

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dvldog them is nice lookin hives. you get up to 100 an have to start
pullin replacein rotatein an i bet that gonna be a heck of a picture.
rubeik cube.

tarply mite no how to get you in touch.
i like that idea but would make sure i shufled em up before i staple em up.
 

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LOL, yeah. The 2 meds are brood boxes. I have an extra that I can rotate in and out to keep the patterns the same....LOL.. would be funny
 

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you aught to be able to sale them thangs to fokes that dont like bees
just for the art to put in gardens.
how did a leatherneck ever come up with that. you mustva marryed well. ha ha
 

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I took a cue from a cousin who put an Italian flag bumper sticker on one of her hives. I put a Minnesota bumper sticker on my MN Hygenics and a different Russian flag/ensignia decal on each of my Russian hives. Keeps my mind straight, hope it helps the bees.
 

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Specialkayme-
After doing a short google search, I found a John T. Ambrose who's an interim dean for undergrads at NCSU. I'd wager that there's a good chance that he could be your old prof. I can't imagine that he wouldn't want to talk about what he taught in the past. Get it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. I'll PM you his contact info, since I have it up in another window right now. If it's not him, I bet another entomologist there would know how to get in touch with him.

Devdog- those hives look sweet!

-Erik
 
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